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The 15 most important assistant coaching hires of 2021 -- No. 2: Jake Peetz and DJ Mangas, LSU

In bringing in two of Joe Brady's colleagues, Ed Orgeron has embarked on one of the great philosophical experiments in football history.

Back by overwhelming demand, FootballScoop will once again examine the assistant coaching hires that will have the biggest impact on the college football season and the coaching job market in the 2021 season and beyond.

Who: Jake Peetz and DJ Mangas 

Titles: Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator

Previous stops: Carolina Panthers running backs coach (2019) and quarterbacks coach/Carolina Panthers offensive assistant

Why he's important: In an industry where everyone is afraid of saying anything interesting, Ed Orgeron has never been afraid to tell us exactly what he thinks.

Like last September: "We are so much better on defense right now than any part of the season last year."

Or this past March: “I hired some coaches, I didn't even interview them from the last staff. I'm not doing that again. I interviewed everybody."

So when O tells us this, we can know he means exactly what he says:

"We brought back Jake Peetz and DJ Mangas to run Joe Brady's offense of 2019, one of the most prolific offenses in the history of football, and that's what we're going to. I think those guys are going to do a tremendous job."

Football has long been a who-you-know business, but rarely, if ever, do you see a program just so out there about two of its hires. Here's the opening to Peetz's official LSU bio:

Jake Peetz, who spent the 2020 season working alongside former LSU offensive coordinator Joe Brady on the Carolina Panthers coaching staff, enters his first year as offensive coordinator for the Tigers in 2021. He was named to the position in January.

A native of O’Neill, Nebraska, Peetz’s offense will feature the spread concept and will be much like that of LSU’s 2019 offense that set numerous NCAA, SEC and LSU records during the national championship season. Peetz will also coach the LSU quarterbacks.

And here's Mangas:

After one season in the NFL as an offensive assistant with the Carolina Panthers in 2020, DJ Mangas returned to LSU last January as the passing game coordinator for the Tigers.

Mangas first joined LSU in 2019, coming to the coaching staff as an offensive analyst after two years as the offensive coordinator at William & Mary.

In his original stint with the Tigers, Mangas worked with former offensive coordinator Joe Brady as LSU put together the most prolific offense in SEC history, averaging 48.4 points and 568.4 total yards per game in 2019. That year, LSU won the national championship, scoring 50 or more points seven times and winning all but two games by double-digits.

That's a far cry from February 2020, when Orgeron tried to cast Brady as a guy who helped out on third down and in the red zone. 

There's a reason Orgeron has revised his own revisionist history in regards to Brady's legacy in Baton Rouge. He watched his offense go from first, second and first in total offense, yards per play and scoring to 35th, 78th, and 39th. 

LSU offensive statistics under Ed Orgeron

SeasonYards Per PlayYards Per GamePassing EfficiencyPoints Per Game

2017

6.19 (32nd)

411.1 (54th)

149.76 (17th)

27.2 (76th)

2018

5.50 (84th)

402.1 (69th)

134.26 (65th)

32.4 (38th)

2019

7.89 (2nd)

568.4 (1st)

197.40 (2nd)

48.4 (1st)

2020

5.52 (78th)

433.9 (35th)

135.49 (57th)

32.0 (39th)

Having Brady's playbook is one thing, implementing it is another. The guys doing the implementing don't have much experience running their own offenses (although, to be fair, neither did Brady when he got to LSU).

Peetz is the elder of the two at 38. He broke into coaching as the safeties coach and special teams coordinator at Santa Barbara City College, and from 2007-18 his career was a series of off-the-field jobs in the NFL and college football. He landed his first on-the-field job as the Carolina Panthers running backs coach in 2019, then moved to quarterbacks when Matt Rhule and Brady came to town ahead of the 2020 season. Working with Teddy Bridgewater in a transitional/COVID season, the Panthers did not rewrite the NFL record books. Panthers QBs threw 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions and ranked 18th in yards per attempt as the team went 5-11.

Mangas, 32, has prior experience running his own offense. He worked at William & Mary from 2014-18 -- crossing paths with Brady for one season, when Brady coached the Tribe's linebackers -- and worked his way to offensive coordinator in those final two seasons. William & Mary ranked 104th in total offense and 112th in scoring in 2017, and 122nd in total offense and 121st in scoring in '18. 

Now they're in the SEC, hoping to replicate the greatest offense in school history and one of the best the game has ever seen.

It's an impossible task, made even more possible by the fact that (takes deep breath) Joe Brady, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Ja'Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Terrace Marshall, Terrance Moss, and that entire offensive line save for right tackle Austin Deculus are now in the NFL. 

Myles Brennan spent 2019 studying Burrow's every move, but God had other plans. He suffered an injury so rare three games into last season that he almost had a surgery named after him, and his 2021 season ended earlier this month when he broke his arm in a "freak" fishing accident. 

Sophomore Max Johnson will lead the offense in Brennan's stead. His QB rating was 20 points below Brennan's last season, but Orgeron noted Brad Johnson's son was the "only quarterback to go 2-0 last season."


Previous installments: No. 15: Sonny Cumbie, Texas Tech | No. 14: Travis Williams, UCF | No. 13: Liam Coen, Kentucky | No. 12: Jess Simpson, Miami | No. 11: Tim Banks, Tennessee | No. 10: Mike Bobo, Auburn | No. 9: Jeff Grimes, Baylor | No. 8: Mike Tressel, Cincinnati | No. 7: Mike Yurcich, Penn State | No. 6: Deland McCullough, Indiana | No. 5: Bill O'Brien, Alabama | No. 4: The Michigan staff | No. 3: Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame


The Tigers' two leading rushers, Tyrion Davis-Price and John Emery, Jr., are back for their junior seasons. The wide receivers will be led by sophomore Kayshon Boutte, who broke out at the end of 2020 by catching 14 balls for 308 yards (!!) and three touchdowns in a 53-48 win over Ole Miss. The offensive line returns 13 of its top 14 players from the 2020 finale. 

Football game is a harder game to study than basketball and baseball because of the sample size problem. Even across a season where a team may run 900 plays, very few are the same in terms of personnel, down and distance, field position and game situation. And even when you drill down to a play's DNA, how do you account for off-schedule plays like these? 

But LSU's 2021 offense will offer a perfect petri dish for experimentation. Just how much of that 2019 magic was due to the plays laminated onto Brady's call sheet? How much of it was stored in Brady's brain? And how much was simply due to Burrow's golden arm and all the talent around him? Where does one begin and the other end?

With Peetz, Mangas and Johnson, we'll get our answer this fall.